We are Oaks of Righteousness

I painted again today.  In between text messages, and praying for divine intervention for backpacks for our community and playing with my much neglected little princess, I painted.  It is an accomplishment, and so I celebrate. It is my act of worship and my act of loving myself enough to carve out the time to do something that ministers to me. 
So as I looked at the canvas that was written on during one of our "River" worship nights I prayed and asked the Lord to speak.  
He always does, if we ask and sit still.  So as I poured paint onto canvas and listened, this is what He gave me: 
We are oaks of righteousness to display His glory.  As I painted, the trees sprang forth and Gold highlights got dabbed on their trunks as they stretched towards the light.  The skys may be cloudy and dark but there is always light, always an opportunity to reflect His glory.  

Dear Lord, let my eyes see the beauty that is coming out of the darkness, let me remember that the clouds often carry the Glory.  Let me see and believe the best, let me look with expectancy for your light and let me grow towards that light revealing and reflecting your beauty.  The tree doesn't have to work to grow, it just does.  Help me to just grow, no striving only loving.  Help me to nurture those growing around me that we would all be called oaks of righteousness. Help me to bring a message of hope and to have a praising heart.   Amen. 

Announce Freedom to All Captives
1 The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, Announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. 2 God sent me to announce the year of his grace— a celebration of God's destruction of our enemies— and to comfort all who mourn, 3 To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, Messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. Rename them "Oaks of Righteousness" planted by God to display his glory.

Isaiah 61:1-3 (MSG)

Banishing Fear From My Holy Place

My Holy Place full of messy creative inspiration 

This is my creative space, my Holy place.  This is where, so often I hear from the Lord.  I decided to be brave and paint over one of our worship night canvases.  I have been hesitant to do that or maybe I should say scared.  Scared that I would stink, scared that I wouldn't do a good enough job, scared that I wouldn't measure up.  What a bunch of sh*t.  I know I have taken to using this word way to much.  

So I decided that I have been preaching for over a year about being brave, about being daring, about not being afraid to fail and here I was being a hypocrite.  Being fearful.  I am ashamed to admit it.  It is funny how being fearful is wrapped up in so much of our lives.  The fear of failure keeping us from living free.

I remember being an art student in college and one of my professors saying the worst thing for creativity is fear of what others think.  I can remember him clearly saying paint what you like, even if others don't think its art.  This was during a season that I particularly loved doing mono prints, loved the mashing together of paints and then I would work back into them with different tools either removing paint or layering on more paint.  This was some of my happiest times as an artist, free from conventional study and the rigors of trying to create something very perfect and realistic.  This was a time of experimenting with colors and textures.  The driving force of my life up to this point had been perfect or not at all and this freedom with this professor was new and welcome.

Fast forward almost thirty years and turns out freedom didn't win for a lot of those years.  Until now, now freedom is winning bit by bit.  Its not easy.  I am learning to recognize when something is fear driven.  I have taken to more risk than ever before in my life.  I suppose what I have lived through in the last few years has brought me to this new found freedom.

Franklin Roosevelt said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself".

It is true.  There is no truth in fear.
Fear is itself the enemy, not the things that it keeps us from doing.  I am not afraid of painting, I am afraid of not being good enough for your approval or even my approval.  Fear is the culprit here.  

So I looked at the canvas with all the precious words that people had written on it during our nights of worship.  I read the prayers and declarations and they ministered to me.  I asked the Lord to guide me as I poured paint onto the canvas, I prayed for those who had written on the canvas.  I couldn't bare to cover the canvas completely, I had to leave some of the words showing through.  You can still see much of what was poured out of others hearts on the canvas and then hopefully you can see my heart poured out on top of theirs.

I felt wildly insecure as I painted.  My heart twisted briefly as I felt so unworthy of such a calling, to partner with what was written and create something new.  Then I remembered what I have preached a thousand times....I am worthy, because of Jesus.  When something didn't look quite right I remembered that imperfection is beautiful and that perfection is bondage.  I watched closely as the paints and inks ran together and I loved the mashing of the colors.  I loved it.  I felt the freedom that comes from loving your own thing, regardless of its imperfections.  It was in those dripping, swirling imperfections that I saw such beauty and felt such joy.  My life is a swirling, drippy, messy, beautiful piece of art.  Unexpected tragedies and joys blending together to create a masterpiece.

Last week I had a bad day, just one day.  I said to someone that I am angry about my life, it isn't what I wanted.  Later I felt so sad because in truth I think that is what I struggle with, this unholy discontent.  However I also know that my life is so much more than I could have imagined or hoped for, much richer with love than I have ever experienced, my home, my family, my church, I am so thankful. Yet when the darkness comes, it is easy to forget all the good.  In the dark of that day, I simply asked the Lord to forgive me and I heared Him whisper....it is finished.  The darkest of times, bringing the closest of times with the master. His grace has covered me like a beautiful painting and I am becoming exactly who He has designed me to be even as I am undone in the natural.  This unraveling of all the old and the weaving together of the new is costly and involves a deeper surrender than ever before, but it is sweet and I welcome it.  Fear is losing and love is winning.

The light and beauty are coming to the surface and the pain can be seen dimly now in the background.  God never quits talking to me, I just sometimes grow deaf and dumb to His voice, the roar of grief drowns out His still quite voice, then life slows down and I press in and hear him again.
I guess that is the struggle of the human condition....we forget how desperately we need Him every moment.  

Thank God He never gives up on me, He is my faithful creator and I am His Masterpiece.  

Wish you could see the detail better.....guess you will have to see it in person.

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